Team photographer Eric Lars Bakke has been working with the Broncos for 26 years. His photography blog will serve as a unique look from the perspective of an NFL photographer, periodically updating the site with tales from the sidelines, some of his favorite photos and the stories behind them. Below is his first entry.
NFL seasons start out with many unknowns. Who will be the starting running back? Who will be number two at QB? How loaded is such and such team?
For me one of the biggest factors has always been, “What is the weather going to be in such and such town?”
As an NFL photographer you always want to be prepared. Seldom have I been out-guessed by the weather, though I would have kindly obliged to offer up a better scenario on many occasions.
This time of year obviously you know it is going to be HOT and there is a good likelihood it will be wet due to thunderstorms building as the day progresses.
In all the years I have covered opening day games, I have had sweltering heat, I have toyed with rain showers and quick thunderstorms, but nothing in virtually 27 years compared to the opener in Jacksonville.
Knowing it was going to be hot, no, actually nearly unbearable even for Florida standards, I paced myself early covering pregame situations because I knew it would take a lot of energy to maintain for four quarters of football.
Even before kickoff the temperature was pushing 100 degrees and the heat index reported by many outlets was 105.
I had consumed five bottles of water and a Gatorade long before kickoff. As I am standing waiting to cover a requested photo of Media Relations Director Patrick Smyth in pregame, small rivers of perspiration were trickling down my back, over my eyebrows and behind my ears (you get the idea).
It’s the combination of the heat and the humidity that wears on you the quickest. We heard from Head Coach Josh McDaniels all week before the game encouraging players to hydrate in an effort to beat the heat game day.
Much like altitude, it takes days to acclimate to that type of environment.
I truly began to understand the test of the athletes.
I was hydrated. I was dressed properly. I had access to additional water and Gatorade along the sidelines and yet sweat was pouring into my eyes as the first quarter started.
I darn near felt like a wet noodle.
Here I am trying to conserve energy and the players are going full tilt.
All I can say is the Gatorade towels supplied along the bench saved the day.
I slung one to my equipment belt around my waist dampening my forehead and eyes continuously between plays.
And when the late third quarter deluge showed up, I used one as a rain hat-lens cover.
Sure, I had rain covers for the cameras and lenses, but as an associate proclaimed, “Why worry about a rain jacket, we were soaked before the game started!”
-Eric Lars Bakke, DenverBroncos.com
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